EU Agenda on Migration: addressing the link between migration and development

The European Commission presented its new Agenda on Migration on Wednesday the 13th of May. The Agenda sets out a new comprehensive approach to migration, but the recommendations have yet to be translated into concrete policies. Most of the content of the agenda focuses on the immediate response of the EU to the Mediterranean refugee crisis. This aspect of the agenda has been much debated in the media and in the European Parliament, as the Commission has proposed the relocation of asylum seekers across Member States, based on a redistribution key.

Nonetheless, the agenda also present a long-term approach to migration, and touches upon the nexus between migration and development. This topic is elaborated on in the forthcoming impact study of the Foundation Max van der Stoel: ‘More mobility for Development! Policy Coherence for Development in practice: making the EU Mobility Partnership a tool for development in Cape Verde.’ The study will be launched on the Monday the 22nd of June in Brussels and on Tuesday June 23 in The Hague.

The agenda concludes with part four: 'a new policy on legal migration.' The Commission recognises that the European Union faces long-term economic and demographic challenges, with an ageing population and an economy that is increasingly dependent on highly-skilled jobs[1]. In the Agenda, the Commission states that migration will increasingly be an important means to ensure sustainable growth of the EU economy, and to enhance the sustainability of EU’s welfare system. Therefore, a clear and rigorous common system for legal migration is needed, in which Europe will continue to be an attractive destination for migrants[2]. This is the view of the Commission and it is important that EU member states also recognize the important contribution migrants make to the European Union, and the urgency of a long-term vision on migration, accompanied with appropriate policies. The Foreign Affairs Council on Development, held on 26th of May, brought together all the ministers on development cooperation of the EU Member States. This Council has concluded that well-managed migration and mobility can make a positive contribution as an enabler to inclusive growth and sustainable development[3]. However, to establish a legal migration policy that also contributes to sustainable development, several incoherence’s need to be addressed. The Agenda on Migration addresses some of them, which are mentioned below.

Mobility Partnership: facilitating regular migration

Labour migration has been recognized by the International Labour Migration (ILO) as contributing to the development of the country as destination, as well as the country of origin.  One such concrete policy tool for regular migration is the Mobility Partnership. The Commission intends to link migration and development more strongly through Mobility Partnerships[4]. Currently, four Mobility Partnerships have been signed between the EU and four African countries, namely Cape Verde, Morocco, Tunisia and Nigeria. The Mobility Partnerships are a framework for visa facilitation agreements but also readmission agreements, and aim to facilitate legal migration and mobility. One such framework for legal migration is circular migration. Circular migration, or non-permanent migration, is the repeated movement between a country of origin and destination. Circular migration schemes would facilitate more mobility and this can lead to a potential win-win-win situation: it is beneficial for the destination country, the sending countries and migrants themselves. Thus, attention should be paid to link of these Mobility Partnerships to development. 

From brain drain to brain gain

The Commission also intends to overhaul the Blue Card Scheme, in order to attract high-skilled individuals. One of the consequences of the current Blue Card Directive scheme is skill shortages in third countries due to emigration, otherwise known as brain drain, as only high qualified and highly educated migrants are welcomed into the EU. The EU introduced the Blue Card initiative in 2007, in order to stimulate the migration of these highly skilled migrants. In the original text of the Blue Card Directive it can be read that the EU Blue Card Directive promotes ‘ethical recruitment standards’ to limit, or stop entirely, active recruitment by Member States in developing countries already suffering from ‘brain drain.’ The original directive also calls for specific tools and guidelines to facilitate circular and temporary migration, to turn ‘brain drain’ into ‘brain gain’. It also calls for specific reporting provisions, to monitor the implementation of this Directive, to identify and possibly counteract possible impacts in terms of ‘brain drain’ in developing countries and to avoid ‘brain waste.’[5] Thus, when the Blue Card scheme is overhauled, policy makers should take measures to prevent brain drain from happening. One of the actions that could be taken is that all member states, including the private sector, sign a legally binding commitment that would prevent the private sector from actively recruiting in developing countries. Furthermore, if the EU attracts workers whose education and training have been provided by their home countries, these countries should be compensated for having provided these skills.

Cheaper, faster and safer remittances transfers

Migrants send remittances to their families and this money is very important for the development of local communities. Migrants’ remittances have a significant impact on the reduction of poverty in developing countries as they are linked to the achievement of development targets such as education, health and gender equality. However, the existence of transfers costs on money transfers to especially Africa is counterproductive to development goals. The Commission proposes to ‘ensure cheaper, faster and safer remittance transfers to countries of origin, by adoption of the EU Payment Services Directive II, and with support of the Development Cooperation Instrument.[6]’ This would mark an important step forward. The Foreign Affairs Council on Development has adopted a similar line of thought, calling for safer channels of remittances[7].

The way forward

“The EU is committed to ensuring coherence between migration and development policies,”[8] is one of the conclusions of the Council of EU ministers of development cooperation. Currently the EU migration policy focuses too much on managing irregular migration and it does not consider the impact on developing countries, which in turn hampers the effectiveness of development policies. The principle of Policy Coherence for Development (PCD) is enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty of the EU. Article 208 states that the EU shall take account the objectives of development cooperation in the policies that it implements which are likely to affect developing countries. One of the five PCD priorities is ‘making migration work for development.’ With this new European Agenda on Migration, hopefully the Commission will take up concrete actions to make migration work for development! 

Keep an eye out on our Facebook page and Twitter to find out more about our impact study on migration and development!

 

 


[1] European Commission. “Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, The European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions.” 13-5-2015. P. 14

[2] Ibid.

[3] Foreign Affairs Council (Development) A New Global Partnership for Poverty Eradication and Sustainable Development after 2015 - Council conclusions -. 26-5-2015. P. 20

[4] European Commission. “Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, The European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions.” 13-5-2015. P. 16

[5] Council Directive 2009/50/EC of 25 May 2009. Summary.

[6] European Commission. “Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, The European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions.” 13-5-2015. P. 17

[7] Foreign Affairs Council (Development) A New Global Partnership for Poverty Eradication and Sustainable Development after 2015 - Council conclusions -. 26-5-2015. P. 22

[8] Foreign Affairs Council (Development) A New Global Partnership for Poverty Eradication and Sustainable Development after 2015 - Council conclusions -. 26-5-2015. P. 7. 

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